Vol. 12 No. 11 - June, 2010

Construction update: it’s a blast at the Albert Sherman Center

Construction of the Albert Sherman Center literally got off with a bang this month as crews began a blasting program to remove some 20,000 cubic yards of rock to make way for the foundation and footings of the new $400-million building.

Two blasting events are planned for weekdays,

one each at approximately 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

 The program started with a test blast on May 19, when an explosive charge typical of those to be used throughout the six- to eight-week blasting schedule was detonated. The test blast was monitored by the site team and the Worcester Fire Department. Noise and vibrations measured from the test blast were within the specifications established to minimize any off-site impact, so the construction manager was given permission to proceed.

Beginning on June 7, two blasting events are planned for each weekday, one each at approximately 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The controlled blasts will last less than half a second—similar to the test blast. The areas to be blasted will be covered by large blasting pads made from old vehicle tires. The massive black pads weigh thousands of pounds each and are designed to keep soil and rock debris down.

An air-horn warning system signals the onset of blasting activity. Five minutes before each blast, the horn will sound three times. One minute before each blast, it will sound twice. A single horn will follow the blast, indicating the “all clear” signal has been given. Depending on the specific location of each blast, traffic may be stopped momentarily on Plantation Street near the construction site. Similarly, North Road traffic may be stopped momentarily; however, the road will remain open at all times to ambulance traffic. Public Safety personnel and staff from the construction management company will monitor vehicle and pedestrian traffic as part of their standard blasting protocol.

The blasting contractor, Maine Drilling & Blasting, has extensive experience working in close proximity to clinical, research and technology-intensive areas, including recent blasting projects adjacent to Mass General Hospital, Milford Hospital, EMC and Pfizer that took place without disruption.

The blasting activity and associated rock removal can be viewed from the new web cams trained on the site. For more information about the Albert Sherman Center visit www.umassmed.edu/shermancenter